17 UX/UI Trends for 2021

2020 has been a roller coaster ride. So many things happened that year and happened fast.

With the rise of virtual and remote working culture, UX/UI trends have seen a drastic change throughout the year.

And 2021 is no different. As a UX/UI practitioner, it is essential to stay informed about these forever changing trends, and follow and replicate the good examples of UX design.

In this article, we will explore 17 top UX/UI trends for 2021, what is influencing the trend change, and why you should check out the new trends.

Top UX/UI Trends for 2021

#1 Dark Mode

The rise of dark siders will likely be continuing this year too.

The look is elegant, stylish, and modern. As we’re spending more time with our smartphones and laptop, dark mode plays a vital role in user experience. 

But the dark mode is not just white texts on a dark background. It has a couple of more advantages too. 

  • It saves the battery if the device uses an OLED or AMOLED screen.
  • It is better in terms of the readability of text.
  • It is better for reducing eye strain while using the device at night.
  • It reduces the screen glare and minimizes blue lights. 
(Source: XDA Developers)
ux ui trends dark mode
(Dark mode in macOS system apps)

#2 Neumorphism

Neumorphism combines flat design and skeuomorphism. It is a visual style that combines background colors, shapes, gradients, and shadows to ensure UI elements’ graphic intensity. All that allows achieving a soft, extruded plastic look and almost 3D styling.

Neuromorphic UI’s are elegant; there is no doubt about that. Its’ soft UI elements feel so comfortable.

While it is so popular among the UI designers of Dribbble, most UX experts think just the opposite.

Neumorphism doesn’t play nice with basic usability principles. It almost kills the intuitiveness and accessibility. And there aren’t lots of real-world apps built on top of this style. 

But it’s beautiful and futuristic in terms of design. So, we might see more implementation of Neumorphic UI in 2021.

ui ux design neuromorphism 1
(Source: Dribbble)
ui ux design neuromorphism 2
(Source: Dribbble)

#3 Animations

We saw significant popularity with UI animation lately.

Designers can utilize UI animations to enhance the user experience by guiding the flow much better than a static graphic. There will be more and more animations in 2021—both in UI and product promotions. It is an immersive way for mobile apps to convey messages to the user without using modal and banners.

For example, Lottie animations by Iconscout is a popular resource for this trend.

ux ui trends animation
(Source: Dribbble)

#4 Advanced micro-interactions

Micro interaction exists in every software application. We use it every time while using different applications. The “Like” feature of Instagram and “Retweet” of Twitter are the perfect examples of micro-interaction. 

Advanced micro-interactions such as gestures and touchless controls bring new opportunities to crafting a more intuitive experience. We will see more and more of these in 2021 for sure. 

ui ux trends microinteractions 1
(Caption: Instagram feed)
ui ux trends microinteractions 2
(Caption: Twitter tweet options)
ui ux trends microinteractions 3
(Source: Medium.com)

#5 Bold Typography

Did you notice that web typography is getting bigger and bolder?

Especially for landing pages and microsites.

Bold typography is one of the easiest ways to grab users’ attention. 

Bold typography stands out from its surroundings and demands to be read. But it has to be an integral (and integrated) part of the overall aesthetic. 

Popular websites are adopting this technique. It looks like bold typography is here to stay with a straightforward and proactive approach and continue to grow in 2021. 

Landing pages of Dropbox, Drift and Nike are the best example of bold typography usage. 

ux ui trends dropbox
(Dropbox home page)
ux ui trends drift
(Drift home page)
ux ui trends nike
(Nike-Canada landing page)

#6 Smooth gradients

The reign of smooth gradients is in full swing.

Microsoft’s fluent design system and the new design approach by Apple in macOS Big Sur are two of the big pushes in gradient-based designs. Google also joined the party with redesigned logos of Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs and Meet. 

gradients ux ui trends 1
(Fluent icons for Microsoft Office)
gradients ux ui trends 2
New icons from MacOS Big Sur
gradients ux ui trends 3
(New icons for some Google Products)

#7 3D is everywhere

3D designs have been attracting users for the last couple of years. Despite some drawbacks on memory consumption, 3D is trending in both mobile and web applications.

In 2021 the 3D will continue to thrive, especially seeing VR and AR technologies’ rising popularity. 

ux ui trends 3d ar vr 1
(Source: dribbble)
ux ui trends 3d ar vr 2
(Source: dribbble)

#8 Empty and error states illustration

Errors are scary, and emptiness is boring.

But they both are an integral part of a software application.

So UX/UI professionals are taking a step forward to make them more exciting and more comfortable. This trend is going to continue this year too. 

ux ui trends empty state 1
(Source: dribbble)
ux ui trends empty state 2
(Caption: YouTube Error State Illustration)
ux ui trends empty state 3
(Source: Pinterest)

#9 Design system

This trend is about discipline in the design world, and it’s not new.

More and more companies are getting serious about unified design experience and building their design system. Material Design, Ant Design, Fluent Design System are the most popular open-source design systems. Also, there are tons of other free design systems. We are hoping to see more comprehensive design systems this year. 

ux ui trends design systems 1
(Source: Saif71.com)
ux ui trends design systems 2
(Source: Dribbble)

#10 Remote and virtual collaboration

We are all (mostly) working from home.

Small to large companies are adopting this new culture so fast. So, the demand for remote and virtual tools and services is skyrocketing. The design of the latest and old services are revamping while giving virtual collaboration a priority. These trends will continue to rise in 2021.

ui ux trends collaboration
(Source: NextPlane)

#11 Augmented & Virtual Reality

There are endless opportunities to innovate and create exciting experiences in the AR/VR space.

A lot of AAA games are coming to VR platforms. UI design for AR will be one of the significant trends in 2021.

ux ui trends vr ar
(Source: Road to VR)

#12 Voice User Interface (VUI) and touchless interactions

Another UI and UX trend that began in the wake of the pandemic is touchless interaction.

Various methods of interacting with devices, such as voice control and air gesture control, are gaining popularity. We saw lots of voice-activated services last year. VUI is going to be a new hotcake in 2021 too.

#13 Great user onboarding experience

The power of good onboarding is rising when millions of people are forced to deal with the task of installing and using video conferencing and remote-work services. This trend will shine in 2021 too.

ux ui trends onboarding
(Onboarding UI of Slack Mobile App)

#14 Frictionless authentication

We all hate passwords.

It’s complicated, hard to remember, less secure. In 2021 we will see a continuing demand for frictionless authentication such as social login and biometric login. 

ux ui trends login
(Source: MacRumors)

#15 UX writing and microcopy

Specific microcopies written keeping the brand in mind can go a long way in building a friendly experience. UX writings and microcopies play a significant role in overall UX design, and it will hold its ground this year. 

ux ui trends micro copy
(File request page from Dropbox )

#16 Personalized experience

Personalized and tailored experience is a new way to retain users’ interest.

For example, on an eCommerce site, personalized buying recommendations quickly overcome the ‘I don’t need it’ buyer resistance. With the rise of AI and machine learning, we will see more personalized experiences in software products.

ux ui trends personalization 1
(Memories by Google Photos)
ux ui trends personalization 2
(On this day by Facebook)

#17 Rising of super apps

Nowadays, the so-called “Super apps” like Wechat and Yandex Go are insanely popular in Asian countries.

Silicon valley was always skeptical about the super app. But time is changing now. We shall see the rise of the “Super apps” in the coming days. 

ux ui trends super apps
(Caption: Yandex Go)
ux ui trends super apps 1
(Wechat: One app covers all the features of 12 popular apps)

Why check out UX/UI trends?

UX/UI is evolving, just like any other knowledge.

And like anything else that develops, new trends are continually emerging and growing. UX/UI professionals should stay informed about current trends and leverage them. An updated design gives your users a feeling of freshness. It also proves the commitments of the company to the product. 

So it is essential to keep an eye on the latest design trends rather than miss the movement and design and an outdated software experience. 

What is influencing the trends of 2021?

In a world where everyone is dealing with a pandemic, product design is changing. In the software world, lockdown, forced closure of stores, and so on have had an enormous impact. 

Remote collaboration, online shopping, streaming service, work from home, and communications platforms see rapid growth. As always, in periods of dramatic change, technology and design trends reflect the customer’s needs. So in the coming days, the UI trends will prioritise speed, simple page designs, mobile-first approach, and, most importantly, artificial intelligence. 

ui ux trends work from home
(Work from home. Photo by ‘Standsome Worklifestyle’ on Unsplash)

Conclusion

Hope the trends that I’ve mentioned can help you mark where we are with UX/UI today.

And bring out your pen and paper, or the new Notion page, and be ready to keep track of the changes in trending UX/UI concepts this year.

Also, you might want to follow to most influentual UX designers and top UI designers to keep getting the inspiration and insights you need.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the next big trend in web design?

As most of us are forced to work from home, the next big trend in web design seems to be collaboration and simplicity. Micro-interactions and VR are increasingly developing too.


What is a UX design trend?

A UX Trend refers to a direction, in which something about UX/UI is developing or changing; such as the leaning towards VUI in recent years.

Ertugrul Cavusoglu

Ertugrul is the Product Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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